Saturday, 23 June 2018

Make Time for Outrage...

We could all just stay home this week... and it would feel like nothing happened and nothing much mattered or would look any different.
We could all just turn to look at what we've got about us, what we value in our lives and for this one week, ensure all is well and safely tucked in.
We could turn off the news, IGNORE the children in cages... IGNORE the children travelling on troubled waters in desperate mothers' arms seeking a safe port away from war, famine, drought... IGNORE that extra runway at the airport that will lead to an increase in asthma in London's children and contribute to the further degradation of the quality of the environment in which we all live... IGNORE the abuses of power happening within our system of government where Ministers do 'favours' to assist polluting industries and grease the wheels so they can overrun communities, overturn democracy and overhype their lies about proclaimed benefits whilst blocking all the proven negatives...
We could ...but what will have happened outside our individual little bubbles of life? What will have occurred elsewhere that will eventually have impact on our children, our community, our lives? Even if you don't empathise with the genuine plight of so many or... are so overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of suffering in the world that you can't find the ONE THING to focus on, please try this week to do something to at least register your dismay and make time for outrage.
For those of us who are fighting the clear and present danger of fracking (extreme energy extraction) that WILL HARM OUR CHILDREN right here, (almost) right now - we'll be facing our responsibilities, not turning away and not giving up because it's all so bloody hard and saddening. We're going to gather ourselves together and stand strong because if we don't, we will fail in our obligation to every generation to come.
Protecting our young is no longer about just tucking them in safely and ensuring they are fed and warm... it is about protecting the air they breathe, the water they need, the soil they'll rely on and maybe most importantly, their ability to have a say, exercise a right to object, raise a concern and be heard and have an impact within a democracy that actually is one.
Please don't sit this one our. See you on a frontline (or online supporting one)? 

*LINK HERE and HERE to what I wish you could come to x

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Nasty Arts...

This morning I didn’t go to our place of protest on Preston New Road as I understand well that sometimes my responses are not for the best.

We'd been informed that our fence and hedge art was to be torn down because it posed a risk by distracting motorists or some such nonsense excuse... the contrast with the nurtured, encouraged and much championed view of a huge drilling rig in the eyeline of drivers and the many many risks it brings - is just too ridiculous, too ironic, too insulting-to-intelligence and just too damned ludicrous to have been a witness too in the flesh. Like a slap in the face with a wet fish by an idiot claiming wisdom whilst repeating over and over 'that's what it says here to do'.

Despair and disbelief are common emotions here where we’ve come for 531 days now, along with the most oft said preamble to each sentence of "But surely...." before trying to extract reason from unreasonable ‘authority’ in all its guises from council workers to police officers.

Discussing the risk of extreme energy extraction is discouraged, dampened down and muted whilst the risk of a messy road or messy people is broadcast loud and far to stir up anguish, distract from the actual, real and very threatening risks of the industry itself and deter others from joining us.

As each method of expression is gagged... what remains? The recent injunction prevents us applying our bodies to protest and with our creative outlet through art now taken away... we’re being silenced and buried from view because Cuadrilla have the power of influence, the Conservatives support them and Lancashire County Council is weak and poor.

Closing in around us will not make us stop... but it will indeed have an ever-growing impact that probably doesn't look like a pretty picture of the earth, women knitting peacefully or residents in prayer but I get the impression that's just what they prefer - riotous/angry and easily demonised-by-media protesters, then they'd know what to do with us; then they’d get their ‘text book’ protest rather than all this beauty, all this genuine, all this diversity, all this caring and all this protecting our young that is just so hard for them to handle.

I have some pretty yellow ribbon that Marie Taylormakes beautiful bows from… it’s how the art started, with one yellow ribbon… 

Onwards x

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Being a good little girl... that's bad

From a report just out showing how our ‘Law & Justice’ system is utilised by industry against government and people:

[In October 2017, the Scottish parliament voted in favour of its government’s decision to extend a moratorium on shale gas production (“fracking”) that had been placed in 2015. This followed an extensive public consultation and the government commissioning six reports on unconventional oil and gas extraction that covered economic effects; decommissioning, site restoration, and aftercare of industrial sites; climate change; seismic activity; health effects; and community level effects from transportation.

Despite this thorough process, the petrochemical multinational INEOS took the Scottish government to court on the grounds that the effective ban on shale gas production is “unlawful” and that ministers have misused their power and made “very serious errors.” INEOS has also applied for financial compensation. Meanwhile, central government argues that shale gas will enhance the UK’s energy security, create jobs, and boost the economy and that “world class regulation” will keep communities and the environment safe.]

Yesterday the Police Evidence Gatherers were filming as the Wednesday Women began to disperse after completing our 44th ‘Women’s Call for Calm’ and I asked what on earth there was to get evidence of… it had been entirely peaceful and as it had been the previous 43 times. As he replied that they get evidence too of when behaviour was good… something snapped inside me like those luminous, glowing plastic things you get in nightclubs and the burning glow of how it felt is nestled like acid and still burning through my veins.

I think he’d expected me to be happy that I’d lived up to being a good girl today… they have no bloody idea of what it is that has got us to this roadside for over 520 days, no idea of what’s going on inside us that forces us through obligation to be here at all.

The ‘good’ I do is when I impact a dangerous industry and impede its progress to the ultimate outcome of harming our children – that’s ‘BEING GOOD’… locking onto a device to prevent passage of dangerous substances, occupying a field for 3 weeks to let the neighbours know how close they were to a future frack site, slowly walking to cost a vile industry time and money… GOOD GOOD GOOD… and the good I likely have yet to do, will not in any way be defined that way by courts of (misappropriated) law that are supposed to dispense justice but instead get used as a corporate tool to facilitate progress and damn the expense or collateral damage.

Today I got up as early as always to go to the side of the road… but haven’t made it there yet. What will I do when I get there? Be a bloody ornament of no consequence? Just another ribbon on the hedge to dangle daintily out of harm’s way whilst gifted the opportunity to watch as the site surges and grows under the weight of its brutal ability to manipulate and buy the time of our law courts… to listen to the clanging and whirring as the machinery gouges through our landscape passing through our precious aquifer and watch as fools turn up to work inside the compound – soon to be inhaling methane and intake silica sand to fester in their lungs as they wander in blissful, chosen ignorance of the danger they are in and the harm they facilitate.

These people and this industry along with our compliant UK government are playing Russian Roulette with our children’s lives and futures… but it’s ‘lawful’ because a courtroom where Justice was supposed to reign supreme… was abused and the laws that were created to protect the vulnerable, were manipulated to fit the purpose of commerce instead.

What about this situation is reflective of anything we interpret to mean ‘justice’?

Until this week (when the frackers took us all to court as ‘Persons Unknown’), there have been opportunities to do more than wave a banner, there was the ability to take non-violent ACTION in order to impact the industry and raise awareness; now there are limitations that have invisibly and totally reshaped the landscape of the past 520 days. The road looks the same but there are unseen boundaries policed by unseen cameras in order to dictate our behaviour… we’re effectively caged, it’s just you can’t see the bars.

Things are in transition... it’s ‘what to’ that’s the thing though. Fracking is I suppose – the predictable outcome of a corrupted system that has given away the truth of ‘JUSTICE’ and set the price so high that only the powerful can access the changeling that ‘justice’ has become.

So what now for us? It really will be a moment by moment thing as we test our boundaries, our rights and our-selves to see what limits are and what becomes when law and obligation meet in opposition...

We’re told no that if we protest fracking, in particular places and ways… that we will be dealt with in the courts and that they’ve taken actions that inhibit our ability to exercise our Articles 10 & 11 Rights to non-violently protest.

Meanwhile.. the political system, the planning system and the judicial system are infiltrated and hijacked by vested interests… lawfully guided through because the corrupt have become the law-makers.

I’m just pouring a cuppa and gathering up my knitting now… I’ll get up to the transit lounge of my life on the A583 shortly and be another one of the decorations that are found there. I’ll be very bad and I’ll fail the children miserably by having no impact whatsoever – but the evidence gatherers will smile and the faces watching the CCTV will be content that ‘law’ was abided by and their version of ‘good’ prevailed.

My greatest fear and what will certainly dictate my personal choices… is that THIS is set to become our new ‘NORMAL’ and that if weeks pass and this injunction holds (if we act against the temporary one they’s say that’s why they need the permanent and if we do nothing, they will say it’s working!)… then our days can only look like this and that’s a normal I’m not willing to get used to or bequeath to my grandchild. A VOICE in our society is vital – or it’s just a totalitarian regime where harm can come without consequence.

This issue then of supreme importance is the fight to find and then preserve JUSTICE...

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Opposing Fracking...

We get it wrong as often as we get it right; there is no ‘game plan’, no job description, no way to know if the next moment’s decision will get us closer or farther from the goal… but we do it anyway because sitting this one out, would be a crime against our children.
The imminent danger is plain as day and looks like a rig at the side of an ‘A’ road in Lancashire… it’s impossible to ignore, though some turn away out of fear of being inadequate to the task, unwilling to try at something that looks too big, too daunting and with little chance of success. The frustration of those who don’t actively engage, plays out with negativity and even blame when things don’t go well. Things can’t go well for goodness sake… we’re taking on one of the biggest industries in the world and our arsenal is woefully inadequate compared to theirs… ours has wool and cake in it alongside the lock-on tubes and truck-surfer survival kits; if you were a Bookie you’d have us ranked well below the rank-outsiders… down there in the muddy pile of hopelessly-out-of-our-depth.

We plough on though… not because we think we are fabulously good at this, not because it’s a lifestyle-choice, not because of the glory (we have to pee in a bucket, breathe noxious fumes & have our bodies bruised) and certainly not because of some conspiracy cooked up by fools and believed by the too-easily misled… but because we are firmly and un-moveably stuck in this obligation to PROTECT OUR YOUNG. NOTHING can stop this primal, in-built fact of life and there’s no way to get out of it… so even when it truly sucks and it so often does… we stick our heads above parapets and take the chances because there is no time to delay, no luxury of long-term goals to plot and plan… just now, just every now-moment of every day… the urgent need to stop this industry before it is so deeply into us, we can’t hope to get it out.

The money, power and influence of the energy industry is up there with the all-time big-hitters and we… we’re just mums, grandmas, retired midwives, history teachers, vicars, engineers, nurses, Councillors, choir teachers, violinists, harp players, jugglers and all other manner of sorts that saw a problem and got up to do something about it… active citizens who give a damn about the well-being of ourselves and others.

This week…. In the place where law is abused and justice faked, the frackers sought to cut off yet another of our avenues of defense against them. For seven years we have challenged every step they have taken; from the corridors of ‘power’ to the streets, we have been there throwing truth and ourselves about and they have blocked us at every turn… but we’re still here, they’re still not producing any gas yet and the first horizontal frack has still not happened.

We can feel their breath on our necks they’re that close to it now but;;; NOTHING WILL STOP US FULFILLING OUR OBLIGATION TO PROTECT OUR YOUNG.

There are spaces and places and ways to be that remain ‘safe’ within the phoney laws and we will evolve and adapt and challenge in ways we haven’t yet thought of… ways that will come to us in moments of inspiration and desperation and whether wrong or right, we’ll give other things a try because the only other option is to lay back and accept that our children WILL suffer as a result of our inaction.

So on Monday… we have the lovely Kate Raworth and John Ashton joining us for another Green Monday, hope to see you at the roadside 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

My First Lock-on...

Glancing from the ground I caught sight of Maria on a chair, her face drizzled with tears and sadness as she apologised for letting us all down… I cried too that any of us was going through this at all and that such an honourable woman could imagine she had let anyone down… she’d been bloody amazing, enduring over 9 hours locked-on. The absurdity of what we were in the middle of, also struck me…

A caravan (but “this was no ordinary caravan… this was an M&S caravan” not quite the right initials but you get my drift) had been parked dead-centre of the entrance to the fracking site on PNR (Preston New Road) at 2:10 am Tuesday 22 May 2018, inside it were 5 individuals locked-on to various devices in every position possible in a little caravan. Welded metal grids were behind the plastic windows with their unassuming maroon curtains and the door was half welded shut/half barricaded with metal.

Outside the caravan, a further 2 individuals had their arms locked on to devices that connected to devices and others within the caravan… as the police peeked and peeled back bits, it was clear that even puzzle-professionals would have scratched their heads in puzzlement. We have some clever pixies in all areas of this phenomenal movement and the skills needed to match ever-changing conditions, are evolving, improving and exceeding expectation every time. Yay our lot!

Either side of the caravan in the entrance to the fracking site, were swollen, strange devices roughly the size and oddly the shape of a baby walrus to the right and a chubby eel to the left.

Each device contained the locked-on arms of two individuals. On the eel, the individuals were locked-on to their own pins inside and in the baby walrus (where I was with my niece Becky - our first ever lock-on), we were locked to each other. We’d made dedications on our devices and ours was for my Mum, Becky’s Grandma (Narnie is what they called her).

Back to my friend Maria though… she was individually locked-on in the eel as was Jo alongside her… so when she self-released, it had no impact on the time it took as the device still needed to be hacked apart to get him out. The cutting team had been doing the job on the beautiful beast of a thing and it resisted and showed its metal (quite literally) at endurance; sparks were flying, grinders grinding to breakage over and again, heat and smoke, vibration and smell, generators buzzing and failing and getting replaced and perplexed faces earning creases in the growing heat… all manner of ingredients goes into these things and this batch – was magnificent. The frenzied cutting and accompanying vibration impacted Maria’s health and she made the right decision. We ask a lot of ourselves but we all need to listen when our bodies say no too.

The outcome of this ‘Caravan of Love’ operation ended up at 41 hours of awareness raising and disruption to site and involved 13 individuals - although the spaces were for 11… but an odd thing happened on the way to my own personal demise and de-locking with my niece at 11pm (after 21 hours since start).

The cutting crews had been challenged throughout the day and not made enough headway to even come across to the baby walrus that Becky and I were hugging and they went home early evening; thing was though I had reached my personal breaking-point at 4pm and each moment that followed was truly challenging. The dilemma in my head was that the device had taken someone a huge amount of time and energy to build… they’d obviously intended on it doing its job and impacting the development of this site and raising awareness and if I just gave up, I’d be giving up their work too and that was an unfathomable place to be when the heat-stroke of relentless sun and ache of limited movement had kicked in to such a degree.

Our simply brilliant Welfare Team (Protectors who look after those unable to move by keeping us hydrated, nourished and cared for including sanitary requirements) also work to boost morale and keep us going… a bit like the ring guy in a boxing match at times. Although our wellbeing is paramount to welfare… so too I think is the shared aim of ensuring we see the operation through to maximum achievement… so lovely Barbara and Julie were ‘firm’ lol and dragged my whingey, moaning arse through the dark bits when my thumb clicked about with the lock and the temptation to run, be free, cool down etc nearly overtook me. The small but deeply felt waving of the fingertips of another who was in the caravan, also scooped me up as I knew they were cooking in there too and in even more awkward positions.

Once the sun bedded down, the pain at least of the burning was eased. I endured much of the rest out of fear of falling into the care of the police at the time which now included a notorious officer 322… he was leaning against a police van, whispering to younger officers whilst looking at me intently and they each then turned to laugh. It was humiliating, uncomfortable and downright bloody creepy.

An angelic visitation in the form of Olive at around 10pm (one of our Wednesday Women and a respected, kind elder), it was a beautiful thing as she massaged each remaining Protector who was locked-on; soothing our backs with her strong hands and our spirits with her soft words and wisdom. The kindness is what you take away after a thing like this and we had bucket loads of it. Although it was somewhat surreal too and an officer was heard to say “I sometimes wonder what world I’ve woken up in” as Olive entered the Caravan of Love to administer to the feisty inhabitants and the vehicle started rocking with the sounds of men being relieved of aches!

Nearing 11pm I got waves of nausea… lovely visitors had come from Maple Farm with food and generous spirits but the heat of the day and the fact I wouldn’t eat more than a nibble of a biscuit during the entire time (practical reasons!) finally got to me and I knew if I didn’t run at that minute, then I would be ill all over everywhere and everyone. I released my lock and got up to make for the shed that has the loo in it just up the road. I hadn’t been arrested so not considered that I was leaving the police area as a problem until an officer stopped me and said I was under arrest (apparently this happens either when they begin cutting you out or when you self-release). I explained the predicament that I needed to be sick and along with a female officer I was taken to the shed.

Then it was straight to a waiting arrest vehicle to be whisked off to the cells. The empty device (my niece had been released by my action as we were locked together) though didn’t stay empty as two who’d come up, dived into the opportunity and saved the bloody day!! I had not dared to hope this would be possible… circumstances with security behind and police in front certainly made this seem like (quite literally!) a ‘pipe-dream’.

So our baby walrus made it through the night with two new inhabitants as my niece and I endured 12 ugly hours in police cells. Every minute in the cell I regretted my choice to release; at least when I was locked-on, I was CHOOSING my actions and not locked into a nightmare where doors don’t open and there are no choices. I reacted really badly to this part and think it has something to do with my having once been a passenger in a 7-car pile-up; although quite some time ago, I have a residual repulsion and fear of being held in place by anything other than my own free will.

Days have now passed since the Caravan of Love and the cell experience has paled in significance and as I’ve reviewed my actions… I’m content with all my decisions and although I wish I’d endured, I was more than relieved that others could. I feel changed in some indefinable way and have learned much about my fellow Protectors that I could never have understood before. My admiration and awe is stratospheric and I feel honoured to have been a part of something that contained so much pure intent, strong moral core and beautiful humanity. Our Legal Observers, Welfare and even the Police cutting crew and Medics, acted with professionalism and care and my fellow locker-on-ers – will forever hold a special place in my heart that’s reserved for the sacred things 

*UTMOST respect though goes to the cooks and recipe makers behind the devices – your creativity and ingenuity deserve acclaim but sadly most of us don’t even know who you are to say thank you… but thank you xxx

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Good, the Bad & the uncertainty...

Recently after a nun, vicar and monk spoke during faith week… I asked some police officers, just who were the ‘good guys’? And they said them. So I asked who are the ‘bad guys’ they were here policing… was it the nun, the vicar or the monk? They laughed but it isn’t really funny is it… there must be ‘bad guys’ if policing levels are what they are and the only alternative on this road is Cuadrilla. The obvious fails to be seen by those who don’t look.
Today is day 501 since we arrived at Preston New Road to face Cuadrilla and the huge task of stopping them. Since then they have built a pad, changed their traffic management plan countless times, breached till it became so troublesome and obvious that they had to make a new rule that says: “If the police are accompanying the vehicle… it doesn’t count as a breach.”… they’ve proceeded but NOT as planned; if it had been as planned, they’d have done the flow test (fracked) by now. It is estimated they are between 9 months and a year behind schedule.
The ONLY thing stopping them being on-schedule is us. No part of our government or council has put any barriers in place or asked for pause on safety considerations when Cuadrilla made changes… they just get a well-greased ride from our ‘authorities’. The knitters, the ditherers, the delayers, the prayers, the surfers, the lock-ons, the dancers, the tea-drinkers… we’re the cause; every single moment of delay has accumulated into a huge headache for Cuadrilla, with suppliers having to work round us and some, getting wised-up or fed-up enough to pull out.
Success is impossible to measure, though the share price has not recovered since we caused the drop in it and remains below .40 cents (most investors bought in at a much higher than this price).

Failure though is felt every moment of every day that any of us stand before the beast of a rig. We feel small, inconsequential and aghast that we even have to do the work of regulators and authorities in order to keep our community and its children from harm.

Our right to peaceful protest is dependent on who is in charge at any given moment and the definition of acceptable peaceful protest has diminished to banner-waving across the road from the site entrance. We continue to sit in the entrance to the site... and are removed with the regularity of the vehicle arrivals and departures. Sometimes we are moved with care… other times we are quite literally thrown. We attempt too to get in front of the vehicles to slow them (as has been done on every other frack site) but here on the busy A583 PNR… the vehicles put pedal to the floor and don’t stop for anything. The police stand by and wrap-round the rapid vehicles, putting their own lives at risk for the flatbeds with pipes, the waste trucks, the water trucks, the skip hire and the toilet cleaning vehicle – each gets the sort of policing you’d imagine for an urgently required kidney en-route to a dying patient.

But still we come… still we gather and still we stand in protest anywhere we choose until we are rudely removed. It’s a weird thing… as a small child we are picked up and popped down all the time but as a grown-up, the act of being touched without permission and moved against your choosing – is such an affront to go through. We sit and get picked up and placed elsewhere so many times but after each… return to knit, sit, sip tea and carry on our essential defiance of the misappropriated ‘law’. The police say it is always for our own safety… there is no easy way to get them to see the lunacy of this statement when they make it in front of a drill rig they are facilitating into development with their services.

Is there a breaking point for us? There can’t be because what we are doing is too essential but there are certainly parts within us that ‘snap’.

I have had two episodes where I know I have been somewhat changed inside… the sort of change that although it adds to the determination to keep on keeping on and keeping on harder… but maybe a little something of the heart and spirit is damaged along the way. But this is a small price compared to what is experienced by those just like us, acting with the same urgency and motivation elsewhere in the world. Active citizens doing what we do are imprisoned, seriously hurt and killed in other countries and this fact… makes it all the more important that we DO NOT SUBMIT. We stand for our community of course but we also stand for all the others who do the same… one world, one water, one earth and air. I wonder what it is that gets us from our situation to theirs and only know that if we give up and say it is too much hurt, risk or difficulty – that we give up something very important in society.

Watching those we admire (if you’re fighting alongside us… you are amazing) getting hurt is so bloody hard… the natural sense of needing to peel off the police officer from their bodies or even thump the ones who threw them in the hedges or against fences, is hard to ignore. The problem is that all that anger builds and you can’t direct it at Cuadrilla because they’ve got the bubble-wrap of police around them and you can’t direct it at the police because they’ve got the protection of ‘law’ on their side. Honourable people fulfilling an obligation to safety in our community …are ‘the criminals’ in this scenario and that’s just plain bloody crazy.

It hurts to see anyone harmed and takes all our might to hold ourselves back… I swear a lot more now in place of constant charges of assault that would otherwise happen if I didn’t.

The eldest of my nieces is roadside with me and I have huge respect for the incredible job she does… her decisions are wise and I don’t worry that she makes dangerous choices as she’s intelligent and places her role as a mother as a priority. She was a distance from me last week during the exiting of a vehicle and all the crazy that comes with it… I glanced across and saw a tall, strong male body pushed up against the length of her from behind… his arms wrapped tightly round her front just below her breasts and as anyone would, saw obvious assault and ran to her. To me, her little face still looks as cute as it did when she was a toddler… I clawed at the officers hands to remove them but he had ‘law’ on his side. Our instincts that are natural, right and true are also attacked and squashed down into the growing tinder-box within ourselves and I wonder where this goes, what harms we are actually unaware of taking place within and how the hell we counter any of this.

Then I remember I am a grandmother and obliged to protect the young… and I remember George Bender and how the fight overtook him and the honourable lives lost where governments are even more brutal… and so I’ll get up and be there on day 502 and 3 and 4 until whatever it is that marks the last day.

To all who are at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest and all who can't be but ensure we are not unseen by sharing and supporting in any way possible - thank you, we will one day have time to pause, tend our wounds and heal past this theft from our lives. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Someone's Normal...

When your days are far from whatever was once normal… you tend to be more willing to join in and say yes to invitations to other people’s ‘normals’. Today I immersed in a walking meditation, listened to people of faith express their love, passion and determination to honour what they held dear and 'amen-ed' with them in easy empathy, I did the Elm Dance and joined hands in contemplation… it was warm, welcoming, enveloping and enlightening. Sharing the beliefs of others is not necessary …in order to experience their beautiful authenticity in holding them. Today was mostly a pure delight punctuated by witnessing such bravery, dignity and honour in those who stood together.
Then there are the bad ‘normals’ we encounter too… those of angry people, full of angry rage and angry faces looking to outburst all over anything that hinders their mission. We know we’ll be moved by police but we remain defiant in refusing to budge… there’s no point in stepping aside when the purpose is peaceful protest – and standing or sitting steadfast is surely the epitome of peaceful protest.
There are those police who understand the ridiculous of all this and struggle to find themselves in it… coming down on the side of basic decency and respect; they move our bodies with some care.
Then there are those others with the unspent rage, egos and maleficence – the ones who grab at you, lunge, push, shove into sharp hedges or hard against metal fencing, deliberately twist burning to wrists, dig knuckles in backs, pull hair, pinch soft underarms and handle our bodies indecently – as if we were to be despised; no longer regular citizens (many of us women over 50 years old and many elders with health or mobility issues) but obstacles, inconveniences and clutter to be cast about to make way for the only thing that matters… Cuadrilla trucks.
What drives them can’t be the profit (they won’t see it) or the urgency (no life-saving kidney on these trucks) so it must be either direction from the bosses or the obscene pleasure of exerting power over others and using torturous touches to relish it. Whatever it is… it’s NOT professional policing that we’re witnessing. These grown men and women get up each day and put on a uniform for their pay and with that role they have a code of conduct, set of ethics and rules to abide by… yet using force beyond which is necessary to ensure safety, is something we see near daily.
Over time we re-set our personal ‘normal’ to adapt to change… a new baseline of understanding is established and we accept that when ‘this’ happens… ‘that’ will likely occur next. Today my baseline of tolerance and understanding was beautifully raised as it often is, with the merging with others who come from different lives but sadly too, the baseline for frequency of violence upon my body, is raised too and the new’normal’ has the days ending with aches, pains and disappointment.
To all who are making our United Resistance Week Four, 23rd - 28th April: No Faith in Fracking so memorable for all the best reasons, thank you x

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Life Prioritised...

Families ripped and torn, our dead inadequately mourned, illnesses ignored and treatments paused, children passing through stages missed, loves not seized and lips less kissed. We could have been so much more than this…

These years could have contained so much more…

And we will never know what was lost to us whilst we had to remain on high-alert. We were not intended for endless battle.

There's one ‘go-round’ in life and as I look upon the faces of other activists who struggle too to get a truth heard and receive some fragment of justice… I see people sacrificing the joy of the ride to rush to the side of the earth and her children’s greatest needs.

This life sets fire to our past, claws away the masks of once trusted beliefs to reveal, greed, cruelty and weakness… only made bearable by the glimmers of hope, glimpses of the depths of beautiful humanity and a sense of clarity that although harsh, is at least honest.

Being clad only in flesh, we humans are not great barriers to the threats by heavy objects that threaten our young and hurtle at us at speed ... but there is no denying we will try and when we’re pushed away, will return to try again. The only other option would be to sit by, watch them drive tankers of harm into our community and wish we were bigger, stronger, louder, tougher, less fleshy… accepting a fate on behalf of our children that would be criminal.

This ‘democracy’ slammed shut the doors of access to all but those with corporate power and success as we were left at dead-ends in courts of law and courts of appeal; deals already done, dusted and signed-off in all but public name and we… we keep on poking, prodding, digging, delving, walking up those hills and merry-helling because there is no choice but to stand strong until this is done.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Silenced, Censored, Unheard...

Very grateful for the thorough and accurate reporting coming out of the Roseacre Inquiry... one piece which I'll paste after my bit, managed to capture more clearly my unusual Wednesday at the Inquiry. ...on Wednesday evening many interest parties were given their 5-minutes to put their case to the Inquiry and I was on the list. The Inquiry can ONLY address traffic issues and where many came to speak of dog walkers, horse riders, schoolchildren, residents etc being road users, I came to speak about those of us who would become road users in the area if the site got given the go-ahead. The Inspector turned off my microphone within about 1.5 minutes and gave the impression that if I continued speaking, I would put the outcome of the Inquiry in jeapordy! Surreal, unjust and ridiculous behaviour unfitting for a man in position to appear as unbiased and impartial! Thanks to Fred Moor of Counterbalance for the following coverage of all that happened: -------------------------------------------------- 211 Tina Rothery On the list we had seen, Ms Rothery had been scheduled to speak at slot eleven of fourteen speakers, but she was not called until all the other public speakers had spoken. As the end of a long day approached, but before Ms Rothery actually spoke, we had begun to draft couple of paragraphs to conclude this session. They began: "Maybe it was the lateness of the hour and the fact that (as the Inspector himself said), he had not had his dinner yet. And perhaps he didn't intend to give the impression we were forming, but we couldn't help coming to the view that he was politely putting up with having to listen to all the public speakers. He left us with the impression that this was something that had to be gone through, but not something he gave a lot of weight to. That perception can also engender the impression that he's already made up his mind to recommend the Secretary of State to allow the appeal of course. We don't think that is the case, (and we certainly hope it's not), but his manner; his phrasing; and his body language has left us with the impression that he only really wants to hear the evidence from the professional technical experts - and anything else is more or less superfluous, (as can be deduced from the exchange with Mr De Feu for RAG which we reported yesterday)." As we said, that was before Ms Rothery spoke. Her contribution raised his ire and we report it verbatim now. Inspector: "Tina Rothery?" Ms Rothery: "Thank you very much for the opportunity. My name's Tina Rothery and although I live locally I'm here as a nationwide campaigner against fracking and have been for seven years...." Inspector (interjecting): "I don't want to hear anything about fracking. As far as I'm concerned..." Ms Rothery (interjecting): "I was telling you my role and why I was here, sorry, OK. We're addressing the highway safety for when Cuadrilla comes to Roseacre if they do, and the impact of the traffic. I'm here to address the impact of the protestors if Cuadrilla comes. We'll also also arrive along with that traffic I've seen communities throughout the seven years, from Balcombe to Barton Moss, Horse Hill and everywhere in between, rise up when there is a threat they consider to their homes, their families and their children. People you wouldn't ordinarily assume would become protestors, and although the territory about them is familiar, the actual role they fulfil within that becomes very dangerous for the traffic. Trucks don't always appear as 'Trax' does, and I can speak of this from how we see Cuadrilla operate at PNR. The trucks [indistinct word - there?] look to us like something bringing harm to our children, and so therefore our response to them will be very different. Hundreds of groups of residents have formed throughout the country, and there's no reason to expect that Roseacre won't do the same. I think as you can see from the Inquiry that there are very many more against, and I've not yet seen anybody who is for.
The message also that I would think be received by Cuadrilla and this Inquiry is that over the last 15 months, approximately 480 days, protestors have been at Preston New Road site where Cuadrilla is currently developing, and have not desisted or left, and I understand that Cuadrilla was trying to put across the point that Roseacre will not see the same level of protest, and I come with a message from everybody on the four camps over at Preston New Road, that we absolutely fully intend on being in Roseacre, and objecting there was we've objected to Cuadrilla in Balcolmbe and Blackpool. So it was just to correct them on their assumption and we don't consider that just because we don't live in Roseacre, that we're not locals. Air and water - I know you don't want to consider fracking - but air and water do travel outside the area. Currently we're experiencing on Preston new Road which I can use as the only example we have at the moment, police who are overstretched, over tires and on overtime costing a great deal of money....." Inspector (interjecting): "I don't really think this is appropriate. It's not relevant to highway safety. We already know that you're intending to protest there. I'm not sure where that take the Secretary of State's decision. So thank you for appearing but I'd like you to go." Ms Rothery's microphone was off at this point and it was hard to hear her response bit we think she said: "If there's a company vehicle in a 20 mph road over 45 mph....." Inspector (interjecting): "I dont.... That may be so...." Ms Rothery: "The impact of traffic and our safety on those roads..." Inspector: "Well..." Ms Rothery: "Indistinct words but sounded like - Why can't I speak? ) Inspector: "We are aware of, of, I've been told that you are...." He stopped short of concluding this sentence and we have to say some possible unspoken endings that led from it from it troubled us. Ms Rothery tried to make progress to explain herself but with her microphone not working we could not hear what she said clearly enough to quite verbatim. Inspector: "You've obviously not been here listening to what tee scope of this inquiry is, or you wouldn't be here talking in the way that you are. OK? So as far as I'm...." Ms Rothery: "The inquiry involves the impact [and? or?] the safety as regards the traffic...." Inspector (forcefully and with even more increasing forcefulness toward the end): "The Inquiry is about the appellant's mitigation measures to improve highway safety. If You've got things to say on those then say it. If you don't have things to say on those then I'll be very grateful if you'd leave." Again we couldn't exactly hear what Ms Rothery was saying here but she seemed to be trying to speak about how Cuadrilla would deal with the safety of people who were protesting on the highway and a number of other items. Inspector: "I don't think it's a matter for me. I don't intend to go there. So as far as I'm concerned, you're taking the case nowhere. OK? All You're doing is annoying me, which is not going to, well, if you like, my, my consideration of the whole experience tonight, and a lot of people have come here to express very real concerns about the impact of the appellant's mitigation proposals. OK? Which is what I want to take away and think about." There was a brief inaudible few words from Ms Rothery which sounded like "In the interest of Roseacre I will step down" before the Inspector said
"Good" Ms Rothery left the stand and the inspector said "That's the end of my list of people wishing to speak, I don't think I've missed anyone have I? No. In that case I will adjourn the Inquiry until one o'clock tomorrow. Thank you very much for coming along It was not an edifying exchange. The Inspector must have been tired, it was 8pm after a full day, but we're not sure that justified the tone he used. Ms Rothery told us as she left that she had wanted to address the matter of Cuadrilla's plans to ensure the safety of highway protestors, saying that the Inquiry had given regard to the safety to dogs and horses on the road, but seemed not to want to consider the safety of those who were protesting on the road. To be honest we thought the Inspector had been foolish in his handling of this matter. A wiser inspector might simply have put his pen down, listened in silence until she finished, said thank you, and, if he felt inclined, not included any irrelevant aspects in his report. Seeking to effectively publicly censor what Ms Rothery could say at the Inquiry was unhelpful, and we thought it was damaging to the credibility of the Planning Inspectorate as a body, especially when he has the power to determine what goes into his report. Perhaps a fresh day will improve things.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

United Resistance Week One...

There were so many times this past week when I could have written with a heart overflowing with love, joy and gratitude… other times I could have written bereft, soul-destroyed, sore and deflated… yet it’s tonight when I’m simply tired, reasonably soothed and just a little numb with the acceptance of the inevitable of it all …that I finally find time and space to sit, think and offload in word as we concludeWeek One, 2nd - 6th April: Nanas/Women against Fracking of the United Resistance and ready self forWeek Two, 9th - 13th April: Political Colours (longing for it to be “Week DONE” and this part over with).

So how was the first week then…
Well, it was meant to be a story and that it certainly was; about Women coming together to face a direct threat to our reproductive systems, to our risk of breast cancer and most importantly… to the survival of our children through pregnancy and beyond.

The vote was meant to mean something...
We started with an event that honoured the work of fellow women activists who sought to get us a vote 100 years ago… we stand again for that vote to actually mean something and for the sacrifice of our sisters not to have been for nothing but a rip-off ‘democracy’ offering phoney participation.

Good vs. Evil & Moral right vs. Law...
We followed with a Call for Calm as we do every Wednesday… a pause to catch breath every Wednesday morning that helps us ‘re-set’ ourselves rather than continuing stress and tension at the roadside that would otherwise grow and grow without stop. That afternoon, circles of women sat to knit and crotchet in ever increasing tangles that police warned could be conceived as a ‘lock-on’ – as the event was described as a ‘yarn-on’ we were obviously unsurprised at police perception. More than 50 police were sent to dismantle us. Usually… scenes of police dismantling activists is seen as somewhat expected, with a clear sense of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ put across in the media to make it all palatable – we were not palatable., We were CLEARLY not the ‘bad guys’ and this put the police in the position of manhandling the good guys… and it all got very messy and uncomfortable… but point made I think.

Community as a toxic hazard zone......
Toxic Thursday followed and that was all a bit ‘off plan’ but plans aren’t public so we’ll leave it at that and accept that not all things happen as intended… but sometimes, you get a great outcome anyway. The police clearly decided that ladies with yarn were bad enough… but once we put on those all-in-one hazard suits, the danger level seemed to raise along with police numbers and manhandling. It was all going pretty awfully as we were dragged, pushed and shoved across the road before bouncing back and enduring the same again… then a cheer went up and our female truck-surfer was in glorious place! I told her I would write my blog claiming it was the plan all along lol… it wasn’t, she was just magnificent at seizing a moment and stating “I feel safer up here than down there where they won’t let me protest.”

Bury this industry, not our children...
The final day of the Women’s Week was dark, sombre, genuine and beautiful in it’s raw, honest sadness. We allowed ourselves to genuinely grieve and mourn our own losses – knowing that our aim to prevent the awfulness of mourning for others in the future. I have never been more moved than I was by the warmth of of our union on this and all the other days… women who are not always able to be together, coming together in trust. I saw many reach a point of change – where the decision to truly DEFY kicked in and the police requests no longer had moral weight enough to be heeded.

We were gifted music, joy, kinship, unity and laughter on the Saturday night as Seize the Day gave up their time to bring us the energy to go on and the music to revive us.

Fracking is bloody awful… but the cure it is causing, is the most beautiful thing 

*Photo: Refracktion
**TOMORROW: Magid Magid comes to PNR
***We urgently need your help at the roadside EVERY Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:30pm - all welcome and any time spared is hugely valued.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Open Letter to the Police at PNR...

Dear Police Officers,

What are we to do? How do you see this playing out? The reality that you as well as we (those acting to stop fracking) see is that this government wants hundreds of frack sites here in Lancashire and many thousands across the country – and equally clear is that residents throughout the UK will continue to act to stop this. It’s been 7 years now and we’re still here, still growing and not stopping. Our opposition in England is a part of a worldwide movement that has succeeded in getting this industry halted and we know we can succeed because of this… Scotland, Ireland North & South and Wales have set examples and England is the last place still pursuing fracking in the UK.

We are in the middle of an undeniable dilemma because none of us want to see our councils bankrupted by the cost of policing for fracking sites and none of us want to witness our communities denied proper levels of policing because you’re being used as truck escorts for fracking vehicles .. yet the government has seen fit to use officers like you, to enable a despised industry to be forced into communities without social license; what the hell did they think would be the outcome?

You can’t say it too loudly but we know that you have huge cause to consider this government in the same way we do; your numbers cut (20,000 less officers now than in 2010), your pension age raised and standards undeniably lowered due to cost cutting. Privatisation is nibbling away at your force in a stealth-like fashion similar to what is happening in education and the NHS …outsourcing forensics, prisoner processing and other departments and considering giving rights to arrest to private security firms. You are not treated with respect… and nor are we.

The UK is supposed to be a democracy and one of the better-off countries in the world and yet, our successful rejection of fracking through our Council was overturned and you have seen cuts you can’t fight against yet have to manage the fall-out from. So where we each stand and what we each suffer in our daily work (yes, I am working – my job is to protect my young as my first priority) is caused by the same people – who then set us against each other in an unwinnable scenario that is destined to bring serious harm.

I have witnessed tired officers grow angry and act dangerously …of course we get tired too and tempers fray and we make you more angered and aggressive by taking our frustration and anger out on you too. Meanwhile back in Westminster… lobbyists for the fracking industry and lobbyists for companies like SERCO and G4S, have the ear and favour of senior politicians. You and we go unheard and unheeded. When Theresa May finally leaves Downing Street, we will see more clearly which industries she got close to as we have with former Prime Minister Cameron this week; he spoke at a large Oil & Gas industry event in America… they like him and he is well rewarded for his work with them. It’s clear that he made these connections during his time in power and easy enough to work out what contracts, laws and actions led to the positive relationship.

Yesterday an Officer used what I assume is usual force in getting someone out of the way in an incident… the only thing is, the person thrown wasn’t a dangerous criminal, drunk aggressor or violent thug – it was a small woman and she flew further than the Officer judged. Cath landed in the path of an oncoming vehicle that swerved instantly and only missed causing serious harm or death by a moment. Today, a respected elder witnessed more rough handling by the police and broke down. She was genuinely shocked and said in a tone of absolute disbelief “I HATE THE POLICE!”. She is a warm, kind and gentle woman who like so many of us – never imagined life could look this ugly. We paid taxes, voted, believed we lived in a fair country and that if danger came… there were safeguards in place to call upon and before the reality kicks in along with the sadness and anger, we break with the realisation of truth. The government is responsible for this and you, like us are bearing the pain.

A community’s police force is there for public safety and we are unsafe every day because of a dangerous industry – yet you are tasked with protecting that industry’s metal trucks and equipment… from soft-fleshed people – many of whom are women over the age of 50 for goodness sakes.

What is right, lawful, just or fair about this picture?

We are nearly too far down this path to repair and something serious must happen to change this situation because your force and our residents are at breaking point and that’s with just ONE frack site… they want hundreds. Government and industry will aim to injunct everything they can but we’ll just nudge up next to the edge of every injunction or we’ll go to the places the equipment sets off from and we will not stop because we can’t. What would it take for you to move out of the way of a child and let danger come to them? That’s what drives us and keeps us in this truly awful situation… we CAN’T go till the frackers do.

The solution? No bloody idea – but I suggest it starts with a conversation within the police force and that there needs to be a forcing of the government to see the truth of the danger that is growing on the streets that surround a fracking site in Lancashire.

Friday, 23 March 2018

A (Lancashire) Cry for Help...

A Cry for Help...
Please don't turn away, it really is you that can make all the difference to the people of Lancashire who are in urgent need of your help. We face a huge threat to our health, our children's futures and the safety of the air and water we all depend on and share throughout the country.

The search for gas beneath our community is at a critical stage and the drill is deep now into the shale; as the company behind the site just outside Blackpool, prepares to begin fracking.

We have worked so hard for seven years to stop this industry and as a UK-wide movement, have grown, united, resisted and succeeded in halting any further fracking in the UK since the one and only fracking operation here in 2011. But now... we are so close we can sense the methane, feel the tingle of potential seismic activity and ache just knowing, what more could come.

The stress on our community reached its peak on 4th January 2017 when Cuadrilla came back and started development of a new site on the busy A583 (Preston New Road) and that stress has not eased in the many hundreds of days since> We residents and generous supporters who travel to support us, have gathered at the site every single day and used every lawful and non-violent method we could find to stop this industry from bringing industrialised danger to our doorsteps.

Drillers Cuadrilla are about nine months behind schedule (yay!) but we need to make this stop before it ruins even more lives and depletes and exhausts those of us who have had to put so much into this. Of course we cannot expect people to just stop working, stop providing for their families, stop tending to the needs of those who depend on them and join us each day... all we're asking for is that when you book a break and some time off, that you think of us.

We have arranged a wonderful opportunity for anyone to find their way to help.... from banner waving, bearing witness or help with cooking and welfare - to non-violent direct actions and everything in-between. The United Resistance... 3 months of Love & Defiance, divides up and distributes the hard work of daily activism into 'niche weeks' where groups take responsibility for a set Monday to Friday 8:30-18:00 period of time with the sole aim to resist fracking. You... can join on any day, stay for any period of time and all we ask is that you bring your very valuable self.

In return, we will provide a wonderful space at our 'Community Hub' (just 10 mins from the Cuadrilla site) for breakfast and evening meals (no cost) and deliver lunch at the roadside. We also have 3 camping areas (no cost) and of course as we're so close to lovely Blackpool, plenty of B&B options nearby. The added extras you'll enjoy should you join us include a huge sense of warm solidarity, self empowerment and a real sense of community and purpose... and the children will eternally be grateful that you stood for them 

Week 1: Women's Week 2-6 April
Week 2: Political Colours 9-13 April
Week 3: North West Week 16-20 April
Week 4: No Faith in Fracking 23-27 April
Week 5: Art & Music Week 30 April-4 May
Week 6: Save our Land 7-11 May
Week 7: Uniting the Roses 14-18 May
Week 8: Camps United 21-25 May
Week 9: International Week 28 May-1 June
Week 10: Unions 4-8 June
Week 11: Green Party 11-15 June
Week 12: PNR Week 18-22 June
Week 13: RtP & FInale Week 25-29 June

Week One, 2nd - 6th April: Nanas/Women against Fracking
Week Two, 9th - 13th April: Political Colours
Week Three, 16th - 20th April: North West Week
Week Four, 23rd - 27th April: No Faith in Fracking
Week Five, 30th April - 4th May: Art And Music Against Fracking
Week Six, 7th - 11th May: Save Our Land
Week Seven, 14th - 18th May: Uniting the Roses
Week Eight, 21st - 25th May: Local Camps and Health day
Week Nine, 28th May - 1st June: International Week
Week Ten, 4th - 8th June: Unions
Week Eleven, 11th - 15th June: Green Party Week
Week Twelve 18th - 22nd June: Preston New Road
Week Thirteen 25th - 29th June: Reclaim the Power + Finale Week